Scarborough couple given 'a life back' thanks to gift from Royal British Legion

Sally Clarke from First Light Trust, Chris and Lynn Bell and Ian Poole from the Royal British Legion with the new scooter boot.
Sally Clarke from First Light Trust, Chris and Lynn Bell and Ian Poole from the Royal British Legion with the new scooter boot.

A Scarborough couple can continue to live life to the full thanks to a special gift from the Royal British Legion.

Chris and Lynn Bell, of Bell Close, Seamer, have always led very active lives but in the last few years getting about had become a struggle.

Chris is presented with a veterans badge from the former Mayor of Scarborough Joe Plant.

Chris is presented with a veterans badge from the former Mayor of Scarborough Joe Plant.

Army veteran Chris, 75, suffers from vascular dementia and Parkinson’s disease and used to rely on his wife’s ability to push his wheelchair to leave the house.

“I know I look okay,” said Lynn, 73, “but I’ve got my own health problems and pushing him around was killing me.

“We’d become really isolated as a couple and as inviduals because even if I got him into a car the problem is what do we do when we get there?”

The pair talked about their feelings to their friend Sally Clarke, a support co-ordinator for the First Light Trust, who realised a solution to their problem was just a phone call away.

“Sally got in touch with Ian Poole from the Royal British Legion and after a few days we got a call,” added Lynn.

Ian filled in an application to provide the couple with a type of scooter called a boot scooter which fits into Lynn’s car and following an assessment from an occupational therapist, the charity agreed to purchase not just a vehicle but also a hoist to spare Lynn from having to lift the scooter.

The £2,500 equipment, which has allowed the couple to do everything they used to, has been part-funded by the Legion and REME, the regiment Chris served in. Earlier this year he was awarded a veterans badge issued by the Medal Office at a special ceremony at Orchard House.

Lynn said: “We went down to Armed Forces Day for the first time in three years, we’ve been in town shopping which, when he wanted to come with me before I used to park near Huntriss Row and shove him in the first cafe because I couldn’t push him around town.

“This has given us a life back. There’s loads of things that we can do now, we can go over to my sister’s more, we can get around in the village and we’ve booked a cottage break in Lincolnshire. It’s just amazing.”

Although Lynn is very grateful for the help received, she is aware that all of it could have happened much quicker had they been signposted to the British Legion in the first place.

“No other agency, and I’ve been involved with quite a few, has ever said ‘you need to talk to the British Legion’. Until Sally nobody had ever even asked us if Chris had served in the Army and I didn’t know until she asked that it was a relevant question, but everyone along the way should have asked that.

“I feel very strongly that people should know.”

For Ian, this is an example of the “superb” work of charities that work well together.

The First Light Trust is organising a garden party in which some veterans will be presented with a Veterans badge. This will take place from 2pm to 6pm on Friday July 26 at Bell Close Community Centre.

Any veterans who have yet to receive their badge should contact Sally Clarke on 07464 828050 or John Anderson BEM, from the Royal British Legion, on 01273 351957.

The Scarborough News is on the lookout for the stories of our local military heroes for our Honouring Our Heroes campaign, and we need readers to get involved and get in touch.

If you know any veterans, especially from the Second World War, who deserve recognition that perhaps they don’t already have email newsdesk@jpress.co.uk